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The Etymology and Meanings of Eldritch

Hall, Alaric (2007) The Etymology and Meanings of Eldritch. Scottish Language, 26. pp. 16-22. ISSN 0264 0198

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'The Etymology and Meanings of Eldritch' argues against the traditional derivation of eldritch from Old English *ælf-rīce (‘elf’ + ‘dominion, sphere of influence’), arguing that the etymology is rather *æl-rīce~el-rīce, the first element meaning ‘foreign, strange; from elsewhere’, and the whole therefore meaning ‘other world’. The key evidence is the variant spellings of eldritch in Older Scots texts cannot regularly be accommodated by *ælf- but can be accomodated by the prefix *æl-~el-. The article develops this point by showing that the putative origin of eldritch in ælf- seems to have influenced the definitions of eldritch given both in the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and in more recent scholarship: its connotations of elves and elvishness have in some circumstances been overplayed, and the more general meaning of ‘otherworldly’ is to be preferred.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Funding Information:
FunderGrant number
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced StudiesUNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Dr Alaric Hall
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2008 14:25
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 11:29
Status: Published
Publisher: The Association for Scottish Literary Studies
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4726

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